A Pierce County man says one minute he was trying to burn weeds in his yard --the next -- he was on fire himself. Now that man, who is also a Veteran, is suing the company behind this propane torch -- claiming "it’s not safe." The Greenwood Propane Torch is the subject of the lawsuit filed by the law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala for the plaintiff Brandon Austin. The torch’s parent company Harbor Freight Tools is the target of the suit.
The torch is readily available online for sale, and in stores. KIRO 7’s crew was able to purchase the torch at a Harbor Freight Tools store in Tacoma. Last August Brandon Austin used it to weed his garden, and his attorneys say that task went horribly wrong. Cole Douglas works for the PCVA law firm in Tacoma and says his firm’s client had burns on his hands, arms and up to his neck when the propane torch malfunctioned, “he heard Propane exit right near the handle and right then in a second flames erupted over his body.”
Douglas say Austin has spent months recovering from injuries he received after using a greenwood propane torch. At the firm’s offices in Tacoma, Douglas gave us a look at the damaged torch that sent Austin to the hospital. The entire device was damaged, with handles warped and melted, and burn marks across the entire torch. The torch itself is billed as easy and safe to use, but last August Austin's attorneys says it malfunctioned in seconds, “what went wrong here? When you're placing a product on the market for an everyday customer you have to make sure that it's safe.”
His attorneys and the suit say that Austin was set on fire, he stopped and rolled to snuff out the flames and set his yard on fire in the process. Austin suffered 2nd and 3d degree burns, his attorneys say *he* called 911 and got into a cold bath, before responders arrived and took him to Harborview Medical Center, “You're purchasing a weed remover and you end up in Harborview. That's not the situation anyone expects.”
Harbor Freight Tools did have a similar product recalled in 2001 for faulty hoses according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. That product that was subject of the recall was manufactured in China. The item purchased by Austin was also manufactured in China. Austin's suit says that may have happened to his torch, “he wasn't going out there thinking in a split second his life would be changed forever, as he was engulfed in flames unfortunately that's what happened.”
KIRO 7 did contact Harbor Freight Tools and the company responded and said it does not comment on pending litigation.
-- Ranji Sinha, KIRO 7 News